BDP primaries: Members hold their breath!

SHARE   |   Monday, 15 January 2018   |   By Keitebe Kgosikebatho
Balopi and Nthuba Balopi and Nthuba

The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) will hold primary elections in opposition held constituencies this coming weekend. Secretary General Mpho Balopi has declared that the party is more than ready to deliver a flawless and successful Bulela Ditswe. Balopi said primary elections will be held in all opposition held constituencies for either council or parliamentary seats, save for Tlokweng where all wards (council) and the parliamentary candidate are unopposed. He, however, pointed out that in eight constituencies, being Kanye South, Gaborone North, Good Hope/Mabule, Gaborone Central, Bonnington North, Tlokweng, Selibe-Phikwe West and Maun West parliamentary candidates are unopposed. “Our retaining officers will however visit all constituencies including Tlokweng on the day of the elections to establish whether all is in place and that indeed there are no queries, “he said.

The Unopposed
Gaborone North – Mpho Balopi
Balopi has a decorated resume in so far as BDP politics are concerned.  He is currently the BDP Secretary General after a landslide win against former Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane and Jacob Nkate. He first ascended to the position in 2011 after the then Secretary General Kentse Rammidi resigned from the party. He served until 2015 before taking a short break and making a comeback again last year in the Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s lobby list. While many may have known him to be a successful business tycoon before being appointed to the central committee, it would seem he was more of a behind the scenes person as he served in the finance sub-committee of the Central Committee and worked in many election campaigns.  As a shrewd businessman and a top Public relations and Communications specialist, critics believe that he stands a better chance of wrestling Gaborone North constituency from the now fragmented opposition.

Goodhope/Mabule – Eric Molale
After suffering a humiliating defeat to the UDC’s Kgosi Lotlaamoreng in the Goodhope-Mabule by-elections in 2015, it is still unclear how Molale is unopposed. He is currently the Minister of Presidential Affairs and was appointed as a specially elected MP by President Ian Khama. Molale has served as a Permanent Secretary to the President, as well as Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of Public Service. He also served as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government before he moved to the Office of the President. Owing to the unpopular decisions he took while as head of the civil service, Molale made himself target of a campaign by local trade unions during the 2015 by elections, who labeled him enemy of the workers. This status quo it would seem still stands.

Maun West - Reaboka Mbulawa
Reaboka Mbulawa contested the constituency in the 2014 general elections against Kgosi Tawana Moremi but was thrashed by an over 2000 margin. Mbulawa’s political career was given a life line just after his loss in the general elections when he was nominated as a specially elected councilor and later served as chairperson of North West District Council before he was unceremoniously voted out by his fellow democrats in coalition with opposition councilors. His short stint as NWDC chairperson, however may work in his favour, as the position, accustomed him to the people’s needs and desires.

Bonnington North – Anna Mokgethi
Mokgethi contested in the 2014 general elections in the same constituency but under the BCP ticket against the UDC President Duma Boko, and the Robert Masitara of the BDP. She was thrashed by Boko by 7694 votes to her paltry 2387 coming third after Masitara who garnered 4222 votes. Many argue Mokgethi – previously Annah Motlhagodi – could benefit from an opposition vote split to win the constituency. Other unopposed candidates are Thulaganyo Segokgo in Tlokweng, who contested in the Tlokweng by election last year against Elijah Katse and Phinious Molefe. He later became Katse’s Campaign Manager after losing to him. There is also Allen Lekwapa in Selibe-Phikwe West, Tumisang Healy Mangwegape in Gaborone Central and Dr Lemogang Kwape in Kanye South.

Other constituencies
In Ghanzi North Gregory Losibe will battle it out with Johane Thiite. Both Losibe and Thiite are long time BDP activists and have tried their luck in the constituency contest before. In Francistown South one of the few women in the race Lamodimo Dikomang will compete against Modiri Lucas and Khumongwana Maoto. In Bonnington South Pelonomi Bantsi will face Christian Nthuba who wanted to contest the 2013 primaries but was blocked at the last minute over alleged vote roll irregularities. However, this time around Nthuba is convinced that he has done his assignment and is confident of a positive outcome.  Bakgatla royalty and private attorney Mmusi Kgafela will take on former editor and now businessman Batlhalefi Leagajang in Mochudi West. The Minister of Basic Education Unity Dow, who contested but was beaten by the UDC’s Gilbert Mangole, has not applied to run in the primaries. In Molepolole South Kabo Morwaeng will face Shima Monageng. Morwaeng, who once contested the primaries against Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri in Molepolole North, has since decamped to the south. Monageng lost to Kwelagobe by just over 200 votes in 2013. Specially Elected MP Mephato Reatile will face off with Amos Johana and Dibeela Michael Shobashoba in Jwaneng/ Mabutsane constituency. Reatile lost to the UDC’s Shawn Nthaile but his political career was given a life line when President Khama decided to increase the number of SEMPs and nominated him alongside the youthful Bogolo Kenewendo to Parliament. He was serving as a Specially Elected Councilor and chairman of the Southern District Council when he was recalled to Parliament.
Veteran BDP politician Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri, who lost to the UDC’s Mohammed Khan in 2014 general elections want to make a comeback and reclaim the constituency; he will thus battle it out against Botsalo Rabogadi and Oarabile Regoeng. In Mogoditshane, Patrick Masimolole will attempt to defend his place as the BDP parliamentary candidate for the constituency against Tshiamo, Kgang Kgang, Tshepang Mabaila and Baolwetse Otisitswe. The youthful Mabaila though a rookie to politics is likely to give other candidates a run for their money. He has through Mabaila Foundation been endearing himself to the constituents of Mogoditshane through various philanthropist donations which his competitors argued was a low key political campaign. Lefoko Moagi will face Lentswe Monare in Ramotswa while Kagiso Mmusi, Phillip Mokento, Joseph Makati and Pius Ntwayagae will battle it out for Gabane/Mmankgodi. According to Balopi, following the furore that followed the 2013 BDP primary elections where a number of candidates were disgruntled with the results, later on contesting as mekoko/independent candidates in the 2014 general elections

President Ian Khama had to appoint a commission of inquiry into the matter which was led by former legislator Peter Siele. “One of the recommendations of the commission was that the party should go back to the traditional process of registering members and candidates, which starts at the cells to ensure that the process is controlled by primary structures and there is no confusion,” he said. This, he said, is what the party has taken to heart and will implement in its primary elections. According to Balopi, the BDP Political Education and Elections Committee has engaged candidates with regard to member/voter registration and verification to ensure that they do not pick and identify anomalies at the eleventh hour. “The committee also hosted a workshop last week, in which they trained members on the general conduct and rules and regulations of bulela ditswe,” he said. “People of good repute have been appointed to preside over the elections,” he said, adding that the party Electoral board will supervise and be overall observers of the elections.